LORD Justice Leveson has called for legislation to underpin a "genuinely independent and effective system of self- regulation" for the press.
In his report on press standards and ethics, he said legislation would provide "an independent process to recognise the new self-regulatory body and reassure the public that the basic requirements of independence and effectiveness were met".
The judge said the press had ignored its own code of conduct in a way that had "wreaked havoc with the lives of innocent people" on far too many occasions.
He said there had been a "recklessness in prioritising sensational stories".
And he said politicians of all parties had developed "too close a relationship with the press in a way which has not been in the public interest".
His findings were based on months of dramatic evidence from victims, media figures, including former Evening Post editor Spencer Feeney, politicians and the police.